Ganesh mandals in Mumbai want silence zones gone
Demands from mandals to do away with silence zones are growing louder across the city.
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), the umbrella body of Ganesh mandals, has asked mandals to speak to MPs and MLAs in their constituencies to push the Centre to abolish silence zones, as an amendment to the noise rules. BSGSS’ decision comes a day after HT reported the state asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to remove the concept of silence zones from the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000, ahead of this year’s festivals.
Silence zones are areas within a 100m radius of hospitals, courts, educational or religious institutions where noise levels must not exceed 45 decibels (dB) and 40dB during the day and night. There are 1,537 silence zones in the city.
BSGSS members told HT they welcomed the state government’s move and that they will ensure this year’s festivals don’t have as many restrictions as those in previous years. “We are happy CM Fadnavis kept his promise to relax noise norms for Ganeshotsav. We are not against anti-noise campaigners; we just want to celebrate the festival with all the fervour it deserves,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS.
“These rules affect our daily aarti (prayers),” he said. Dahibhavkar said Ganesh mandals in the state were told to reach out MPs and MLAs as the Centre needs to be “pressurised for the amendment to happen”. “If the silence zone rule is not abolished, we will ask the state government to do away the zones through a notification, for the 10 days of the festival,” said Dahibhavkar.
Noise rules have been blatantly violated in Mumbai over the years. Last year, noise levels during Ganpati reached 116.4 dB. In 2015, noise levels reached 123.7 dB (as loud as a thunderclap). The WHO has said long-term exposure to noise levels between 85db and 90db leads to hearing loss.
Anti-noise campaigners were shocked with the state’s decision and the mandals’ demand. “The state, through its actions, is inciting mandals to cause grievous harm to citizens,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “Instead of encouraging mandals to obey the law, respect the health and rights of others, the state is leading them in harming patients, the elderly.”
After the state’s decision, Yeshwant Oke, the activist who registered the first noise pollution case in Mumbai in the HC, started an online petition that has already got 350 signatures.